Here We Go Again, Another Dam

HooverDamFrontWater
Source: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

The United States Army Corps of Engineers have given a water agency in Colorado’s Front Range the green light to build a large dam and reservoir to divert and store water from the Colorado River – the first such project that has been permitted in decades.

The $400 million Chimney Hollow dam and reservoir is designed to “firm” water supply to nearly a dozen quickly growing communities in Colorado’s Front Range communities, north of Denver. In water parlance, firming refers to making a variable water supply secure.

Feds Issue Permit for Large Dam on Colorado River Headwaters, Water Deeply, May 31 2017, by Mary Catherine O’Connor

I’ll start off by saying, “This is insane!” Gary Wockner, director of Save the Colorado River,  points out that the Colorado River “is already the most dammed, drained, depleted river on the planet – with every drop drained before it reaches the Gulf of California.” The Colorado River provides water to over 40 million people in the Southwestern states. Currently its two major reservoirs, Lakes Powell and Mead, are already only half full. The Colorado River use to drain into the Gulf of California providing for a rich farming area in northern Mexico. Those days are long gone.

The purpose of the dam is to provide water to the Front Range communities north of Denver. While it is true that these communities are growing at a fast rate and will need water, there are other alternatives available. As a former Californian experienced in living with droughts, I have been living in a Front Range community for 10+ years. I have not witnessed my water district supporting any education about water use. If I ask people around here to describe their water shed, I’m met with blank stares. These Front Range communities have large green lawns and enjoy generous maximum water usage amounts before a higher tiered rate is applied.

In times of drought, water use restriction have been mild compared to what I dealt with in California. Before we dam an over-taxed river, there needs to be some eduction in Colorado. The accelerated rate of building residential properties should take into consideration our existing water supply and restrict building that exceeds the current capacity. Damming rivers is a last resort, not a first resort. Below is a picture of the headwaters area of the Colorado River. A dam and the infrastructure required to built a dam does not belong in this remote area.

 

Kawuneeche_Valley
Kawuneeche Valley, Rocky Mountains, Colorado River, USA (cc) Darekk2